What do Leticia James, Jack Smith, Brad Raffensperger, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Myers, and Lt. Michael Byrd all have in common?
James and Smith are prosecutors investigating Donald Trump.
Raffensperger refused to "find" 11,780 votes for Donald Trump.
Kimmel, Colbert, and Myers are comedians who routinely, effectively, hilariously roast Donald Trump.
Byrd is the Capitol Police officer who, while protecting members of Congress from the violent mob directed by Donald Trump to attack the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, shot rabid Donald Trump fan and insurrectionist Ashley Babbitt as she broke into the Speakers Lobby.
Ok, so they all have in common that they are no friends of Donald Trump. So what?
Well, they also all appear on a list of Americans under sanction by the Russian government.
Do James, Smith, Raffensperger, Kimmel, Colbert, Myers, and/or Byrd have anything to do with American policy vis-a-vis Russia?
Do any of them do business in Russia or with Russian companies?
Are they spying on Russia or Russians?
Have they violated the human rights of any Russians?
The only reason these Americans are under sanction by the Russian government is that any enemy of Donald Trump is an enemy of Vladimir Putin.
Putin has long wished for and actively sought the failure of American democracy. And he rightly sees Donald Trump as an agent of American decline. This is not exactly news. We have been aware of an #unholyalliance between Putin and Trump for some time. The Mueller report, which was released in 2019, definitively established that Russia worked assiduously in 2015 to tilt the 2016 election in Trump's favor.
But something has changed: Putin is getting desperate.
Since undertaking his disastrous genocidal project in Ukraine, Putin has painted himself into a corner. The European Union has drastically reduced its purchasing of Russian oil and gas. NATO has become more united, Finland has joined the alliance, and Sweden's induction is imminent. Russia's military has been severely depleted. To avoid conscription into the Russian military, hundreds of thousands of military-age Russian men have fled the country. Ukrainian soldiers are making very effective use of new, Western military technology. Ukraine is now a place where Russian soldiers go to die. And to cap it all, Russian partisans are attacking Putin's military infrastructure on Russian soil.
Putin's only hope is for Donald Trump to return to power, withdraw American support for Ukraine, and again attempt to weaken the NATO alliance.
There is also something else that has changed: Putin is being far less careful about leaving his fingerprints.
Back in 2015, Putin's Internet Research Agency infiltrated online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and other dark corners of the web, with thousands of fake accounts and bots, all designed to look like American citizens. The hacking of the Democratic National Committee computers was done under the radar. The Russians were trying not to be noticed.
But now the Russian government freely releases for public scrutiny a list of 500 sanctioned Americans; a list with many names that are only there because they are enemies of Donald J. Trump.
There are two possibilities here. Either Putin is losing his touch, or he is speaking directly to Trump's MAGA supporters, hoping they will amp up their violent attacks on American democratic institutions and the people who uphold them.
Dollars (or Rubles) to doughnuts, it's the latter. Get ready. Things are about to get interesting.